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MLA Style

Researchers have agreed on specific guidelines about how to format their papers and how to cite their sources. This Guide provides an introduction to the MLA style.


Modern Language Association logo      What is MLA Style?

MLA Style is a set of standards and guidelines to properly write and format papers. Developed by the Modern Language Association, MLA Style is the style typically used in the arts and humanities departments, including English and Literature classes.

This online guide is designed to help students with several areas of MLA Style including:

  • Properly citing sources, both on paper and online

  • In-text references

  • Creating a Works Cited page

  • Basic formatting

For more details please refer to the MLA Handbook, available in the Ready Reference section of the Merritt library: LB2369. G53 2021

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       Why do I need to use MLA Style?

MLA Style creates rules for students to follow when writing and formatting papers. Using MLA Style not only helps your instructors read and understand your work, but the act of creating citations and citing sources helps prevent plagiarism. Plagiarism is when you use a quote, idea, or any other kind of information from a source and present it as your own. If you don't cite your sources then you risk committing plagiarism, which is a serious academic offense that will or can get you expelled from school. Please ask your instructors if they want you to use MLA style.

So, to sum up the benefits of using MLA Style:

  • It makes your life easier

  • It makes your teacher's life easier

  • It keeps you from getting kicked out of school

World map with location markers    How do I use this guide?

Navigate this guide by clicking on the links at the top left of this guide. You will find a basic outline of MLA style, guidance on how to create MLA style citations, on how to refer to your sources from your text, and on how to put together your Works Cited list, and how to properly format an entire MLA style paper.

Thanks to Lia Thomas, Librarian at College of San Mateo, for the outline of this page.

Why do I cite?

Created by George Brown College in Toronto.